Palin Backing Embattled Tea Party Favorite in Delaware

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Thursday endorsed Christine O'Donnell's Senate bid in Delaware, hoping to give another Tea Party-backed candidate a final push to defeat an establishment favorite.

The former Alaska governor announced the endorsement on radio host Sean Hannity's program and on her Facebook page.

"Please support Christine O'Donnell in Delaware," Palin wrote to her supporters on Facebook. "She will support efforts for America's energy security, patient-centered health care reform, cutting government waste and letting the private sector thrive and prosper!"

The endorsement could provide a major boost for O'Donnell, locked in a bitter primary against Rep. Mike Castle but short on campaign cash. While the Tea Party Express has pledged $250,000 to help O'Donnell, her campaign financial reports filed on Aug. 25 show she raised about $260,000 total for her bid and had about $20,000 in the campaign bank account.

Castle, a nine-term member of Congress and a two-term governor, raised $3.2 million and had $2.6 million cash on hand.

Palin hinted at Castle's long tenure in her unusually brief message on Facebook.

"We can't afford 'more of the same' in Washington," she wrote. "Christine will help usher in the real change we need to get America on the right track."

Tuesday's primary contest is expected to draw about 30,000 registered Republican voters. The winner will face Democratic county executive Chris Coons in November.

Palin, the Republicans' 2008 vice presidential nominee, has become a coveted endorsement. Her backing of Joe Miller in their shared home state helped defeat GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska GOP primary.

Castle's campaign dismissed the backing.

"Tuesday's primary will be decided by grassroots Republican voters here in Delaware, not out-of-state interest groups who are working to control the outcome," spokeswoman Kate Dickens said. "Mike Castle has overwhelming support from respected conservative Delawareans, including former Gov. Pete DuPont and Judge Bill Lee, who know that Castle is the true fiscal conservative and the only candidate who can win this seat for Republicans in November."